Half Wild by Sally Green (#2 in the Half Bad trilogy) (Penguin, 26 March 2015)
This review contains spoilers for the first book in the trilogy.
HALF WILD is an exciting and action-packed sequel to HALF BAD, and the darkest moments of this book are also where it shines the most.
Nathan has received his three gifts from his father, making him a full-fledged adult witch. Now he needs to find Gabriel and figure out a way to save Annalise from Mercury, as well as learn how to control his newly-discovered gift, something powerful and wild and a little frightening. Meanwhile as the Council of White Witches in England expands its forces across Europe and increases its attacks on Black Witches, a group of Black Witches, White Witches and Half Bloods are joining together to form a resistance, and Nathan finds himself becoming a part of this alliance as one of their strongest fighters. What will he find out about himself and about the ones that he loves?
Nathan! Ahhhh, I love your new gift and all that it brings with it. The moments of darkness in you are delicious and I relish them all. I love seeing how much you've changed since the first book. It makes you so much more interesting. But still, you are not the star of this novel for me, alas. That would be Gabriel. I wish he could have his own series.
I think with this book, I can label it as an LGBTQ read whereas I wouldn't have with the previous book. Gabriel takes on a very central role in this one, and he's so passionately devoted to Nathan, it breaks my heart. I love Gabriel so much. He's so doggedly loyal to Nathan in a way that's chillingly beautiful sometimes, and he's also just straight up awesome. HE QUOTES VIRGIL'S AENEID IN THIS BOOK. HOW CAN I NOT LOVE HIM. Nathan, when will you realise that Gabriel is totally right for you and that you two should just happily make out all the time? I get the sense that Nathan is kind of confused about how to feel about Gabriel, and that maybe there's a possibility they will end up together, but I'm not entirely sure! I absolutely loved all the scenes with Gabriel and Nathan together and I WANT MORE. Crossing my fingers for them to get together in the final book!
There was more Marcus in this book as well. I find him a fascinating character and I wish we could learn more about him! I love the way the book explores how he's similar and different to Nathan at the same time, and I love the conversations between the two of them. There's one where they talk about being good rather than bad, and it slew me.
We were introduced to quite a few new characters in this book and I don't know if any of them made a huge impression on me. I feel like that's probably one of the weaker points of this series. Aside from Nathan, Gabriel, and Marcus, none of the other characters matter all that much to me and I wouldn't care what happened to them. Nathan meets another powerful Black Witch in this novel called Van, who was probably the most interesting of the lot, but even she seemed sort of aloof and mysterious and out of reach.
I especially don't know how I feel about Annalise, considering she's one of the major characters. I still find her character fairly bland and I don't think she's as well-developed a character as Gabriel is, and I don't feel invested in her romance with Nathan. I'm a Nathan/Gabriel shipper all the way. But Annalise did get a lot more interesting towards the end of the book, when her actions turned a little more unpredictable.
THE CLIMAX. Whoa. I never saw that coming. It was surprising and I LOVED IT. It was over too quickly though. The climax pretty much took place over only a dozen pages or so, which is barely enough. I feel like there was a slight lull in the pacing before that, so it was just me wondering, "OKAY NOT MUCH IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS GOING TO HAPPEN SOON RIGHT? RIGHT? WE'RE ALMOST AT THE END!" And then suddenly it was all happening AND THEN IT WAS OVER. In fewer than 20 pages. I needed more! It was just too short, my excitement was over just as soon as it had started.
But overall I enjoyed this a lot more than HALF BAD, which I felt had greater problems with pacing and was far too slow for most of it. HALF WILD was much better paced in general and engaged me from start to finish, with plenty of action throughout. I also found Nathan's voice a lot more absorbing than I did in the first novel – I think the writing has improved. And of course, it helped to have Gabriel around for most of the novel rather than only for a third of it. :D I'm so looking forward to the last book, which I now have to wait a WHOLE YEAR FOR.